Enter the Dra(gon)vid!

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, December 18, 2003, 14:24 [IST]
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In what can truly be called a spectacular performance, Rahul Dravid has taken over the mantle of being not the "Master Blaster" ala Sachin, but the "Dra(gon)vid " of the Indian team. Rahul is not the fire breathing dragon but the rare graceful, mild kind who wins friends as opposed to foes. The kind who leaves his foes singing his praises and doffing their hats off to him.

Steve Waugh was graceful in defeat and that too is the sign of a true sportsman. Australia was made to look mortal for once and that too by a team who by all accounts (myself included) were dismissed as bait for the Aussie sharks.

Sachin's dismissal in the second innings was once again doubtful, but the first innings departure was his own undoing. Maybe now Sachin can get into his natural flair (that has gone all but dormant) knowing that there are others in the batting line-up who can drop the anchor. We may get to see what might become a very interesting series.

If India can stick with Agarkar, Khan, and Nehra in the pace department and Kumble (not Harbhajan "Justbeer" Singh), it might work to their advantage. One hopes the Indian players derive a lot of nourishment for their sagging confidence from this morale boosting triumph. Sachin now needs to come out of his shell and really play. There are still two more Tests to go and he has ample opportunity to become the nemesis of the Aussies.

Sure, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Shane Warne are missing, but that is not India’s fault. Had they been there, would the result have been different? One can endlessly speculate on that. However, one thing is for sure, Gillespie was handled very well by the Indian middle-order. With their confidence on a new level, they may very well handle the aforementioned with authority (barring Shane who still has time to return).

Spare a thought for the much maligned Ajit Agarkar. The conditions were good, he placed the ball in the right places and got the wickets. At last this frail looking pacer has tasted success! Laxman was everything but a Lax - man. His whirlwind batting in the fourth innings showed he kept the target, and the number of overs to go, close in mind. Kumble gets a five to rejuvenate his sagging spirits. John Wright must be a delighted man. Then, maybe, Sandy Gordon too had a hand in this win.

Whatever the case, the fact remains that the Indians finally took the advantage of everything at their disposal to carve out a rare offshore win. I would hate to think what would have happened if the famed batting order once again had caved into the pressure as they have done in the past. But, that is the past. Well done India! Keep up the good work! And please, don't forget the lessons you've learned through this win. You've turned this series from drab and dull to an exciting, thrilling one. May there be many more.

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